When a divorce occurs and children are involved, it is a difficult situation. Should a divorce need to be decided in a court, the children can provide important information. Most parents don’t want their children to have this stressful experience. A Texas Divorce Attorney will know what options are available when their client’s children are required to testify in court.
During a divorce, it is common for parents to disagree on many issues and let a court decide them. It is also common for divorcing parents to not agree about the roles they have in raising their children. A parent may state they spend more time with their children than is true. A parent could also intentionally decrease the amount of time the other parent spends with the child in a statement. One parent may be claiming the other parent is not fit to care for their child. They could request the other parent’s visitation be supervised or significantly restricted. It will be up to a judge to determine what is in the best interest of a child based on evidence.
In many cases, a child may need to be involved in a couple’s custody case. The child’s involvement could be direct or indirect. Should a child have reached a specific age or maturity level, and has expressed a preference for living with one parent over the other, a judge may use the child’s opinion in making their ruling. A child can also inform a judge which parent is better at various child care duties. Children may also be asked to provide relevant information concerning a parent’s behavior. They are often a witness to verbal or physical abuse between parents. A judge will usually work to avoid putting a child in the middle of their parents divorce.
Guardian Ad Litem
This is a way a child can testify in front of a judge with the help of a custody evaluator. The court can appoint this type of professional to investigate the divorcing couple’s home environment. A guardian ad litem or custody evaluator will perform interviews. This will include any coaches, babysitters, teachers, physicians as well as the children involved in the divorce. They will also observe how each parent interacts with the children to determine the level of parenting abilities. When they are finished, the guardian ad litem will provide the judge with a detailed report. This report could be used to determine child custody and more.
Guardian Ad Litem Contact
A Texas Divorce Attorney for either parent can contact the guardian ad litem during the divorce trial. One person testifying to what another individual said is considered hearsay and is not considered admissible in court. The exception covers a guardian ad litem stating what a child told them in confidence. This is an acceptable way to provide a child’s testimony to determine custody during a trial. It is done to avoid putting a child through the difficult experience of testifying in open court.
There is usually no age limit for children testifying in a divorce case. A court will determine if the child is a reliable witness. It must be determined if the child does understand the difference between telling the truth and a lie. There are always special issues involved with a young child testifying. The goal is to carefully interview the child and not to influence their testimony. If it is determined that a child’s testimony was influenced by a judge, it could lead to a mistrial or some other type of courtroom error.
There are several factors to consider before a child can testify during their parents divorce proceeding. It will be up to the judge presiding over the case. They will usually base it on a child’s age and level of maturity. Most courts will try to avoid asking a child to testify. A Texas Divorce Attorney knows it has often been done in the past to help determine matters associated the divorce including child custody and more.
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